Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Debut: Organic Pizzas

I made my Daring Bakers debut this month with these authentic, home-tossed organic pizzas topped with homemade tomato and oregano sauce, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, fresh basil from my windowsill and savory bits of locally raised, cold-smoked Linderöd pork tenderloin.

This recipe (from Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker’s Apprentice") is much easier than I expected it to be and the crust turned out perfectly thin, gently crisp and just tasty. The greatest testament to its success: I ate all of the edges. I never eat pizza crust edges. That officially makes this the best pizza dough recipe ever. May I be so bold here as to suggest that using only organic ingredients and fresh yeast (instead of instant) made my pizza dough even better than Peter Reinharts?

Make a big batch of this easy but perfect pizza dough, keep it in the fridge for up to three days (or longer in the freezer) and then just pull them out two hours before you want to eat, heat the oven, toss/roll and top and bake for 5 to 8 minutes.

Day One
(or in the morning, the same day you want to eat them)
Mix 3 tsp fresh yeast with 1 3/4 cups cold water, 1 tbsp sugar in a big bowl. Then add 1 3/4 cups good olive oil, 600 grams flour and 1 3/4 tsp salt and mix to form a sticky ball of dough. Turn it out on a floured surface and knead for about five minutes until smooth and elastic but still sticky.

Divide the dough in four to eight equal pieces, depending on whether you want smaller individual pizzas or family sizes (...psst, the individual ones are easier to handle later and more fun when everyone gets to top their own) and form the pieces in to balls with floured hands. Place them on lightly oiled baking paper, on an oven pan that will fit into your fridge, and cover with plastic wrap. Pop them in the fridge.

Day two
Remove the dough balls from the fridge, exactly two hours before you make the pizzas. Press delicately, with floured hands, into discs about 1/2 inch thick and then cover and allow to rest for two hours

When the two hours are almost up, start heating the oven (as hot as it goes!) and prep your sauce and toppings. Combine a pure tomato sauce of 100% squashed organic tomatoes with a splash of good olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a clove of garlic, the leaves from a sprig or two of fresh oregano from your garden and heat gently to infuse the flavors into the sauce. Finish with generous sprinkles of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Now you're ready to toss. Generously flour the counter, the underside of a big oven pan and your hands with flour or cornmeal. Lift a dough ball and lay it across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss. Beginners like myself find it useful to prep with a rolling pin first to get the dough expanded to a nicely round shape and manageable size before doing the proper tossing bit. If the dough tends to stick to your hands when tossing, lay it down, reflour your hands and then continue the tossing.

When you have gotten it to your desired size and thickness place it on the very generously floured pan, top it and slide it into the oven. Bake pizzas one at a time for 5 to 8 minutes in the middle of the oven then serve immediately with a carefree italian red like Dolcetto d'Alba from Alessandria Silvio Azienda Agricola or Cantine Giacomo Ascheri in Piedmont. Buono appetito!

3 comments:

Lynn said...

Wow, your pizza sounds amazing. I am jealous that you have basil. The frost wiped out all my basil. So now I have started some in my Aerogarden.

I think your pizza looks like something that would adorn a magazine cover. Great job.

Laurel Williams said...

Thank you for your kind words Lynn. We haven't had freeze in southern Sweden yet but I've had my basil in a pot inside for a while. Happy cultivating!

Eat4Fun said...

Congratulations on your first DB Challenge!

Fresh tomatoes and fresh basil are my faves... very nice looking photo.